Iran: Reported Executions

Conflicting stories about the public execution by hanging of two young men in Mashhad, Iran on July 19, 2005 have been circulating this week. IGLHRC has been very closely monitoring this story and actively seeking confirmation of the precise facts. It is not clear, for instance, whether the men were executed specifically for homosexual acts or for sexually assaulting a 13-year old boy as stated in one report.

IGLHRC staff is working to gather accurate information from our colleagues in order to determine the best course of action to address what would be considered serious outrageous violations of the basic human right to life. Although the reports have been conflicting about the precise nature of both the crimes of and charges against the two young men, IGLHRC condemns the use of the death penalty in general, but particularly in the context of sexuality-related crimes the death penalty is completely disproportionate to the crime committed.

In Iran, homosexual acts are punishable by death. Under article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, however, death sentences may be imposed only for the most serious crimes, which clearly excludes any consensual sexual relationship. According to Paula Ettelbrick, IGLHRC Executive Director, while IGLHRC stands opposed to the death penalty in all cases as contrary to international human rights standards, the disproportionate punishment imposed on sex crimes makes these cases even more egregious from a human rights perspective. In addition, public executions for any crime constitute a violation of the right to be free from cruel and inhuman treatment. Also, the UN Expert on Extrajudicial Killings, Philip Alston, has recently maintained in a similar case that, "Sodomy cannot be considered one of the most serious crimes for which, under international law, the death penalty can be prescribed," he said. "The punishment is wholly disproportionate."

IGLHRC staff is continuing to work on gathering accurate information. Please check back on the IGLHRC website for updated information.